Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke, still euphoric from Washington's victory over the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC championship Sunday, yesterday said his team has "become the NFL team of the '80s."

The conference championship victory put the Redskins in the Super Bowl for the third time in six years. They will play the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII in San Diego Jan. 31. The Broncos are 3 1/2-point favorites.

"I can tell you that trips to the Super Bowl will never become a bore," said Cooke, 74. "I'm excited about this trip particularly, because we are rated underdogs. That augurs well for our future."

Cooke said the team was destined to be where it is today.

"It's been a roller coaster season, up and down -- and we're on a big up now," Cooke said. "It's truly a tribute to the best coach {Joe Gibbs} in the NFL. I've said that since the day he came with us. The same goes for that collection of assistant coaches and the sturdy band of players Bobby Beathard and his scouting staff have put together.

"The combination of those three alone would not be enough. The sine que non is obviously the most fanatical fans in America, aiding, abetting and prompting the Redskins to become the NFL team of the '80s."

Cooke declined to pinpoint a turning point this season, mentioning instead his belief that this is a team of destiny. "There were a few ups and downs," he said. "But all the time I think it was destined to be."

As is his custom, Cooke visited the Redskins locker room after the game.

"I didn't say anything," the owner said. "I just rejoiced with them. This is a time for looking up and thanking the powers that be for favoring us as magnificently as they have. It would be impossible for us to be any happier than we are now."